What's the best way of planning for the possibility that a key member(s) of the team might want to take leave at some point during a project?
I understand one solution is to buffer the project sufficiently so that the project / task can soak up this time without affecting key milestones, however - it strikes me that building in this sort of buffer as standard for all tasks in the project will very quickly start to add a significant amount of bloat into the project.
I also find that buffer time can become "dead time". For example, our validation department operate a fairly tight timetable, therefore if you assume a task has a two week buffer after it - and validation has been booked after that two week period - what happens when that buffer isn't needed (the task runs to time) - that leads to a two week delay before moving to the next activity (the validation team isn't available until the week it was booked for).
Is this just basic project management stuff - i.e. if the buffer isn't used, great - the team move onto something else for two weeks?
Would welcome thoughts on this topic.